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McKAY's was founded in 1974. Believing that the traditional educational system restrained learning, the owners wished to start an alternate university system. Deciding the core to a university is its library, the idea of a "free enterprise library" was conceived - a bookstore that would contain a wide variety of books that an individual could obtain cheaply, keep as long as they wanted to, and return for credit on other books in the future. Since it was possible to obtain second-hand books, the store quickly achieved an inventory representing nearly every conceivable type of book.

This idea came to fruition when a used bookstore called "Edward McKay" opened in North Carolina. Since that time, the brand split ownership, and McKAY's was born. In 1985, the first Tennessee location opened in Knoxville. Since then, two more TN locations have been added: McKAY's Chattanooga opened in 1990, and McKAY's Nashville opened in 2007.  In the summer of 2017, McKAY's acquired ownership of the Edward McKay stores in Greensboro and Winston-Salem, NC, giving us a presence in North Carolina once again. In 2024, the Greensboro store relocated to a brand new building in Mebane, enabling McKAY's to better serve the area for years to come.

The original idea of a bookstore has expanded to include music, movies, electronics, games, musical instruments, collectibles, and more! Who knows what the future holds? Come visit us soon to see what's on our shelves.

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